About 250 kilometres south of Ankara there is another important town whose history goes far back into the past: Konya. After leaving Ankara the road to Konya follows the edge of a huge salt lake past the steppes of the Anatolian highlands.The name Konya is the Turkish version of Ikonion.
This town dates back to the 4th century A.D. and was the political and economic centre of the area of Lykonia. The administrative district of modern Konya is comparable in size to European Switzerland. It is one of the most important regions of Turkey for the growing of grain, this tradition going back to the ancient town of Ikonion, which was a rich and important centre for lots of different fruits and vegetables in the past.
Konya is situated in a very fertile area on an extremely flat plateau about 1000 metres above sea level. Just to the west of Konya, in the direction of Antioch in Pisidia, the plateau ends at a 2000 metres high mountain called Boz Dag, or the Brown Mountain. Konya belongs to a small number of Turkish towns which are growing and developing so fast that today about half a million people live there. From ancient times, Konya has been the crossroads for the main routes of Turkey and today the railway to Baghdad, starting in Istanbul, passes Konya before travelling through Mesopotamia to reach its destination.
At the other end of Konyas main street, called Alaeddin Caddesi, you will see a small hill. Like the main road, the mosque on the hill has the name of the most important leader of the Seldjuks, Alaeddin Keykubad I (1219 ? 1236). The Alaeddin Mosque is built in the style of pillar- hall-mosques, rarely found in Turkey.
The two well-known Medresen, (formerly called educational centres for learning the Koran), the Büjük-Karatay-Medresesi and the Ince-Minare-Medresesi, lie to the north of the Alaedin Hill. Both constructions are excellent examples of the architecture of the Seldjuks and both of them are now museums.
A short distance away from these sites, there is a famous archaeological museum, housing a very impressive collection of Roman sarcophagi. There are also the two important stones which made it possible to locate the ancient Lystra and Derbe. The church of St. Paul, next to the Alaeddin Hill is little known. Italian nuns tend to the upkeep of this house of god. Another memorial from this era of rich Christian tradition is the picture of Thekla and the tame lion.